22 Facts About Beatrice Worsley


Beatrice Helen Worsley was a Canadian computer scientist who was the first female computer scientist in Canada.


Beatrice Worsley wrote the first program to run on EDSAC, co-wrote the first compiler for Toronto's Ferranti Mark 1, wrote numerous papers in computer science, and taught computers and engineering at Queen's University and the University of Toronto for over 20 years before her death at the age of 50.


Beatrice Worsley Marie gave birth to a son in 1920, Charles Robert, and then Beatrice Worsley Helen the next year.


Charles entered Upper Canada College, while Beatrice Worsley started at Brown Public School, but moved to Bishop Strachan School in 1935.


Bishop Strachan offered two tracks, and Beatrice Worsley enrolled in the more difficult university prep courses.


Beatrice Worsley excelled to the point that the headmaster stated she was one of the best students to attend the school.


Beatrice Worsley graduated in 1939 with awards in maths, science, and for having the highest overall grade, earned the Governor General's Award.


Beatrice Worsley won the Burnside Scholarship in Science from Trinity College, part of the University of Toronto, and began studies in September 1939.


Immediately after graduation, Beatrice Worsley enlisted in the Women's Royal Canadian Naval Service, better known as the "Wrens".


Beatrice Worsley was first tasked with studying harbour defences, then degaussing, and torpedo guidance.


When World War II ended, Beatrice Worsley was the only Wren at the NRE to choose to remain in service.


Immediately after leaving the Wrens, Beatrice Worsley was accepted to MIT's one-year master's program in mathematics and physics.


Beatrice Worsley heard of the effort and applied to the position, having been at the NRC only a few months.


The next month, a meeting was held at Cambridge on the topic of computing machines, and Beatrice Worsley prepared a report on the program that produced squares, and a new one that produced tables of prime numbers.


Beatrice Worsley began writing her dissertation under Hartree, who coincidentally supervised another Canadian woman, Charlotte Fischer.


Hartree approved the dissertation and Beatrice Worsley received her doctorate in 1952.


The machine was purchased in early 1952 and arrived in early 1952, before Beatrice Worsley rejoined the centre.


Beatrice Worsley was aware of the machine's arrival, and christened it FERUT for "Ferranti Electronic computer at the University of Toronto".


In spite of impressive credentials from Cambridge, a series of well respected papers, and several firsts in the industry, Beatrice Worsley was repeatedly passed over for promotion within the University of Toronto.


In 1965, Beatrice Worsley was offered a job at Queen's University, launching their new Computer Centre based on an IBM 1620.


On 8 May 1972, in Waterloo, Beatrice Worsley suffered a fatal heart attack.


In 2014, Beatrice Worsley was posthumously awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award in Computer Science by the Canadian Association of Computer Science.